• Erin Hegarty
    MAR 14, 2023

    News in brief: 36 new District Council members endorse Johnson; Taste of Chicago set for September weekend; Lightfoot signs executive order on pay equity audit


    Thirty-six freshly elected members of Police District Councils on Monday announced their endorsement of Cook County Comm. Brandon Johnson (D-1) for mayor in the runoff election. The Taste of Chicago is now set for a September weekend after NASCAR pushed the fest out of Grant Park during its traditional July weekend. Mayor Lori Lightfoot on Monday signed an executive order requiring a bi-annual pay equity audit of the city’s workforce. 

    DISTRICT COUNCIL MEMBERS ENDORSE — More than half of the District Council members elected Feb. 28 to the newly created police District Councils on Monday announced their endorsement of Cook County Comm. Brandon Johnson (D-1) in the runoff race for mayor. Multiple new District Council members spoke Monday about why they support Johnson in his race against former Chicago Public Schools CEO Paul Vallas. Johnson “believes in and will pass the Treatment Not Trauma ordinance to ensure the qualified professionals are deployed to respond to mental health crises,” Ponchita Moore, the top vote-getter in the 5th District Council race said. Anthony Tamez, who is newly elected to the 17th District Council, said Johnson “understands the key to building a better, safer, stronger Chicago and addressing the root causes of violence. His plan focuses on getting smart, not just tough, on crime.” The 22 District Councils created under an ordinance (SO2019-4132) the City Council approved in July 2021 establishing the Community Commission for Public Safety and Accountability are “the fabric of the city of Chicago,” Johnson said. “It’s one of the most diverse coalitions in all of the country.” The ordinance created Chicago’s first-ever citywide commission meant to provide oversight of the Chicago Police Department. The district councils are empowered to help residents resolve local public safety issues, gather community input on police department policy and procedures, and nominate members of the citywide commission. Johnson added that the city “cannot have a public safety plan that works without the people of Chicago, and the District Council members are going to be a conduit to the public safety plan that actually reaches the community — that's different than my opponent.” 

    TASTE IN SEPTEMBER — The city’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) on Monday issued its summer schedule, showing a shift in when one of the city’s marquee summer festivals — Taste of Chicago — is held. Scheduling for The Taste became an issue last week when aldermen delayed a vote on the city’s proposed special events calendar after Ald. Brendan Reilly (42) told reporters he learned the city was planning to hold The Taste the same weekend as a new NASCAR race but in a park just west of Navy Pier. The Taste has traditionally been held around the weekend of July 4, but with NASCAR set to descend on Grant Park that weekend and for several days before and after, The Taste is now scheduled to take place Sept. 8-10 in Grant Park. The Taste will also include three neighborhood events in Humboldt Park, Pullman Park and Marquette Park throughout the summer. "I am thrilled to bring back the Taste of Chicago, our city's beloved food and music festival, along with an incredible lineup of free, cultural events across the city throughout the season," Mayor Lori Lightfoot said in a city news release. "DCASE's wide variety of artistic and cultural programming continues to serve, enlighten, and entertain residents and visitors of all ages and backgrounds while truly celebrating the rich diversity that Chicago is known and loved for." 

    PAY EQUITY AUDIT Mayor Lori Lightfoot on Monday issued an executive order that requires the city’s Department of Human Resources, Office of Budget and Management and the Department of Assets, Information and Services to conduct a bi-annual pay equity audit of the city’s workforce. The audit will focus on racial and gender-based pay discrepancies, according to a news release from Lightfoot’s office. “This action aims to bring to light the stubborn pay inequities that persist in our labor market — both in Chicago and nationwide — and demonstrate the City’s commitment to closing these gaps,” according to the news release. “These announcements, which will address gender and racial pay gaps, underscore my commitment to making the City of Chicago a leader in creating safer and more equitable workplaces,” Lightfoot said in the news release. Lightfoot on Monday also launched a new mandatory training for city staff to address workplace gender-based violence and harassment. Futures Without Violence’s Workplaces Respond to Domestic and Sexual Violence: A National Resource Center will partner with the city on launching the training in March. “As one of the largest employers in Chicago, it is critical that we lead by example, take action to ensure that our policies and employer practices are equitable, and provide a workplace where employees feel safe from harassment,” Chris Owen, commissioner of the city’s Department of Human Resources, said in the news release. 

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